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RIAA’s Grand Total: 10,037 - What are Your Odds?

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RIAA’s Grand Total: 10,037 - What are Your Odds?

Postby SlyckTom » Mon May 02, 2005 10:59 am

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) began their lawsuit campaign against alleged music pirates in June of 2003. When the first RIAA lawsuits began rolling off the assembly line, an enormous media frenzy accompanied this event. Since that time the lawsuits have become second-rate news, as the chances of becoming another RIAA statistic is relatively low – very low.

So what exactly are your chances of being sued by the RIAA? In our news story last Wednesday, Slyck reported the number of online file-sharers was approximately 9 million users. Among other networks, this number did not account for the BitTorrent, WinMX, Manolito, Warez/Ares, Gnutella2 or SoulSeek populations. If we did include those users, we would be looking at a much larger population – perhaps as many as 15 million users. For the purposes of this article, we will split the difference and approximate there are 12 million P2P users online at any given moment.

With this number in mind, there have been 10,037 people sued by the RIAA since June of 2003. According to the web log “ RIAA Watch”, <a href=http://sharenomore.blogspot.com/2005/04/725-more-file-sharers-sued-10037-total.html target=_blank>6,523</a> people were sued by the RIAA in 2004. What exactly does this mean?

If we divide the total population of the P2P community (~12 million individuals), by the total number of lawsuits in 2004 (6,523), we get 1,840. In other words, your chances of being sued are 1 in 1,840 for all users (regardless of network) per year. How does that stack against all other odds of dying from an intentional or non-intentional injury? According to the <a href=http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm target=_blank>National Safety Council</a>, one’s yearly chances of dying from all external causes were 1 in 1,755 in 2002.

Basically, your chances of dying from all causes of external injuries, whether from a car accident, motorcycle accident, plane crash, murder, etc was 1 in 1,755 – fairly remote odds. Although the odds were remote, they still were not as remote as specific causes of death – such as lightening strikes, suicide, “fall on and from stairs and steps” or being electrocuted. In some cases, your chances of dying from contact with a sharp object were 1 in 2.8 million.

So let us examine the chances of being sued by the RIAA a bit further. The main focus of the RIAA lawsuits have been against the FastTrack network. The effects of this campaign has crippled FastTrack, dropping its population from ~4.5 million to ~2.5 million users. From the last <a href=http://www.g4tv.com/techtvvault/features/44735/RIAA_Hit_List.html target=_blank>capture</a> of the proportion of networks under the RIAA’s gun in November of 2003, 150 users of FastTrack were sued, compared to 5 Blubster users. Since the RIAA cannot subpoena individuals anymore, we unfortunately cannot provide a more current proportion. However, common knowledge dictates that FastTrack remains a priority, and on November 13 of 2003 it represented ~96% of those being sued.

If we were to eliminate 96% (proportion of FastTrack users) of the 6,523 sued in 2004, the odds of being sued changes dramatically. If we consider only those using a non-FastTrack P2P network, the total number of lawsuits drops to only ~261. In other words, you then have a 1 in 45,977 chance of being sued if you do not use FastTrack. Comparatively, according to the National Safety Council, you have a better chance of being killed in a transportation or non-transportational accident, death from suicide, death from assault or death by legal intervention (such as execution or being shot by a police officer.)

However this assumes the RIAA has remained consistent in which network users are being sued from. Let's say the RIAA was more diverse in which networks they pursue. If we assume half of those sued in 2004 were using FastTrack, that leaves us with 3,261 non-FastTrack related lawsuits. You would then have a 1 in 3,679 chance of being sued. That still places you above all external cases of mortality (1 in 1,755), but below all transportational accidents (1 in 5,953.) However, you would still have a better chance of being killed in an unintentional accident (1 in 2,698), then being sued by the RIAA.

Although these numbers are hardly an exact science, they do reflect the odds of being sued are little different than the risks one takes by simply living day-to-day life. But if we were to get real specific, the odds of being sued by the RIAA for non-FastTrack users (1 in 3,679) is still much greater than death by contact with a venomous snake or lizard (1 in 95 million.) So just watch yourself.
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Postby omun » Mon May 02, 2005 11:24 am

Thanks that artical help relieve some of my worries about being sued. Is the RIAA still only going after people with a "significant" amount of music that is being shared? Or will they go after anybody who is now uploading one of there albums?
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Postby Doktor_Schadenfreude » Mon May 02, 2005 11:28 am

It has always been that way and I agree that the odds are low. Try telling that to someone who gets a love letter from those bloodsuckers, though. :roll:

I guess that playing the odds game is also the way of life. We sit and drink, smoke, eat, behave (or whatever) our way into problems and then usually try to whine/talk/negotiate our way out of them. Until now, the suits have been settled for very little (relative to what could be taken if the suit went forward) money. If somone got sued for the whole shebang (and I don't know if that is feasible, let's just say it happens...) that would probably make the odds-making moot.

What I mean is, if someone found out that DLing the latest CD was going to cost them a cool half million plus $US :shock: , then there would definitely be a chill in the air. I mean try explaining that to your spouse/parent/rich uncle/whatever.

I wonder if this is going to escalate. I don't see any white flags from the various **AAs... Let's hope that it does not get any uglier...
Pants first, then shoes...
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Postby pimptaddy » Mon May 02, 2005 12:05 pm

they are going after easy targets... basically people on kazz type crap that are sharing a few hundred gigs people that are in college and thus poor, so they cant fight back.. they are trying to scare the soccor mom and other idiots in the public.. I feel sorry for the people that got hit... but they are easy targets ;)
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Postby jaytay » Mon May 02, 2005 12:56 pm

Keep in mind the geography factor.
The lawsuits are focused in the US. If you are located there, chances are obviously higher then these numbers and outside the US, much lower.
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Postby Variant » Mon May 02, 2005 2:08 pm

i would like to see what the chances are for users of usenet only .... maybe better chance that i might win the lottery.
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Postby chacho » Mon May 02, 2005 2:35 pm

:lol: :lol:

Nice one
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Postby SlyckScratch » Mon May 02, 2005 2:52 pm

Variant wrote:i would like to see what the chances are for users of usenet only .... maybe better chance that i might win the lottery.


Likelihood of winning UK Lottery: Approx 1 in 14,000,000
Chances of getting caught getting music from Usenet: Less, much much less

Interesting parallel with the UK Lottery slogan;

"It Could Be You"
I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' To tell the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement - but as I deal in English, the most powerful language in the world with subtle nuances that may blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' Well do you punk?
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Postby alexp2_ad » Mon May 02, 2005 3:41 pm

Nice article... I like it. :)

If only we knew how many of those sued would have been safe if they were using an updated blocklist... then you could put those who are at an even longer odds! :D
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Postby ilbozo » Mon May 02, 2005 7:01 pm

@ Scratch
Thats much better than the odds you get for winning the Texas Lottery! 1 in 47.7 Million!
lol
why bother
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Postby Nick » Mon May 02, 2005 7:23 pm

@scratch said
Likelihood of winning UK Lottery: Approx 1 in 14,000,000


Not strictly true. AFAIK the chances of your winning £1 million or more are indeed around 1:14M, but the odds of winning your stake back are of course considerably higher.

Just being pedantic, although this is an excellent thread and you do make a good point - even if it was below 20Hz ;-)
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Postby Assyrian » Mon May 02, 2005 8:31 pm

nice article, but i have to say.. here in australia the chances are way lower, they dont target individuals here, only groups (which is 1 in 500,000 lol), they mostly close down hubs (when they're bothered).
the government here focuses on making money in a different way, not by sueing innocent people.
so what im gonna do now, is share even more :D

p.s. the whole lottery thing, depends on how many tickets each user buys.
away.
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Postby JaKo30 » Mon May 02, 2005 8:59 pm

great article!
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Postby ap23 » Tue May 03, 2005 3:35 am

Is there a way to find out who those john does are (ip or nick -wise?), have they (or someone) posted ip's somewhere for people to see?
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Postby sagaman » Tue May 03, 2005 4:13 am

how does Tom find the time to research and type out all those long articles? and he doesn't get paid for them... at least i don't think so? :wink:
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Postby SlyckScratch » Tue May 03, 2005 10:07 am

Although the choice of network appears to be a big factor in attracting attention, its the content being shared that puts the nail in the coffin.

Someone in another thread is talking about sharing Classical Music. Illegal or not, I bet no-one is going to get prosecuted for doing so.

So when you're working out your odds of getting caught, you should factor in some increases/decreases based on the material you share.


rocketman05 wrote:Not strictly true. AFAIK the chances of your winning £1 million or more are indeed around 1:14M, but the odds of winning your stake back are of course considerably higher.


Its not like you to be pedantic with any frequency :wink:

sagaman wrote:how does Tom find the time to research and type out all those long articles?


He uses The Force
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Postby Red_Blue » Wed May 04, 2005 9:16 am

Variant wrote:i would like to see what the chances are for users of usenet only .... maybe better chance that i might win the lottery.


Is there any known case anywhere in the world of suing a person for Usenet posting under copyright claims?

There's the Five Senses Productions case which was only marginally related (the company filtered Usenets porn postings that other people made).

Then there were some Scientology witch hunts, but IIRC they were under trade secret or similar claims.
Last edited by Red_Blue on Wed May 04, 2005 9:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Red_Blue » Wed May 04, 2005 9:22 am

jaytay wrote:Keep in mind the geography factor.
The lawsuits are focused in the US. If you are located there, chances are obviously higher then these numbers and outside the US, much lower.

IFPI claims that the total number of lawsuits internationally is only 11,552. So this means that for music, the rest of the world stands at about 1,500.

For example in Finland, the number is 30 known cases (against a population of 5 million, so it would equal to 1800 US cases). However, the only 2 cases thus far where the exact claims are known, they were for 150 and 180 MP3 files. Not "thousands", or "gigabytes" or "big time sharers", or "major infringers", what the local IFPI underling organization has claimed in its scaremongering propaganda.
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